Ruthven Barracks is a ruin on a hill just outside of Kingussie; we have passed it many times on previous visits but today we decided to take a closer look.
Initially we had thought to take one of the many walks around the village but after spending some time walking along streets that were somewhat depressing in their emptiness with many shops closed or for sale, we arrived at the railway crossing and, seeing no path leading towards the barracks, decided that we'd drive there instead. Of course as we drove down the narrow road that was signposted Ruthven Barracks we could clearly see the footpath from the road!
There were a couple of cars parked at the barracks already and we delayed going up to the ruin until we had eaten our lunch. We sat on a bench overlooking the hill and the ruins, buffeted by a chill wind, munching our sandwich and potato chips as we watched people coming and going to the Barracks.
Finally we headed through the gate and up the hill to take a closer look at the historic site. We took our time exploring the ruin, reading the information boards and taking photos - something none of the visitors seemed interested in doing. For the mostpart they seemed to take a quick look round with no appreciation for the history, takea couple of snaps to prove they'd been there, and then leave. One couple were eating their lunch out of the wind in the shelter of the walls but they seemed more focused on their fish and chips than where they were.
Every gate at the site bears a sign asking for people to keep the gate closed; the next influx of people (all young males in a group) left all the gates open. The looked like students but obviously they had never learned to read - or close a gate behind them!
We returned to the car having inspected every accessible part of the ruin and contemplated our next move. Uninspired by Kingussie and having lost our enthusiasm for a walk Alex suggested that we take a drive to Pitlochry - an hour's drive down the A9. It seemed a good plan so off we went.
What should have taken an hour took closer to two or more. We got to experience the great British traffic jam! Roadworks on the A9 meant that two sections of road were reduced to one lane and traffic was being controlled by lights allowing traffic alternately from north and south. The sheer volume of traffic means that delays are inevitable but the tail-back stretched as far as Dalwhinnie and we were either completely motionless or crawling along so slowly as to be barely moving. This is continue until 2017 as the A9 is turned into a dual carriageway so I pity the folk who have to travel this road on a daily basis.
By the time we arrived in Pitlochry it was 4pm which didn't give us much time to look around. We know Pitlochry well (but not well enough to know where the toilets were so that took up quite some time!) and headed for the car park next to Heather Gems which was our intended destination.
So, with our plans sabotaged by the traffic we ended up doing little more than completing a circuit of the main street although we did pop into the Highland Soap Company shop and spend some time - and a bit of money - there.
Our last stop was the Co-Op to get a drink and some supplies for the trip home. We were in no hurry to repeat the experience of the traffic jam although we knew the north bound traffic flow was slightly better, so we took our time.
As it happened the return journey went quite smoothly and the one spot that we were obliged to stop was just a few hundred yards from our turnoff to Dalwhinnie which avoided one stretch of roadworks, so it wasn't too dramatic.
So our day, while not turning out quite as we had planned, was another adventure to add to the list. Although in this case, I would not recommend to anyone that they willingly opt to experience a traffic jam on the A9!